Proposals to turn a former abattoir in Orkney into a £17m integrated waste facility have taken another step forward this week, with councillors agreeing that it should be added to the council’s capital programme for 2023-24.
However, this is subject to the outcome of a grant application to the Scottish Government’s £70m Recycling Improvement Fund.
The council is hoping to secure £12m through the fund, leaving £5,206,000 to come from the local authority’s coffers.
Earlier on Monday, during a special meeting of the policy and resources committee, members agreed to a series of recommendations.
One of these says the project should be added to the capital programme over concerns for the sustainability of the current waste disposal route. The report says the council needs to plan to meet more stringent recycling targets.
The proposed waste facility would be located at the site of a council-owned former abattoir, in Hatston Industrial Estate, Kirkwall.
General waste from Orkney is shipped to Shetland to be incinerated.
Orkney’s current waste transfer sites, at Chiglebraes and Bossack, aren’t suitable for the national approach to managing waste and recycling. This is due to a need for more separation and sorting of waste.
The new waste facility would increase the local recycling rate, increase local treatment of organic waste and reduce the amount of waste sent out of the county.
However, the new facility would also allow the council to participate in the proposed extended producer responsibility scheme, under consideration by the UK and Scottish governments. This would allow councils to recoup costs to do with the collection of packaging materials. This would be good news for the council’s waste budgets.
As in the past, councillor Leslie Manson raised the issue of whether the facility could end up making Kirkwall smell. He asked for reassurances to be included to prevent this.
He said: “If the designers can’t guarantee an absence of melodious fumes drifting across our fair city, is there an eject button that can be pressed at a more advanced stage of the project?”
Lorna Richardson, the council’s interim head of roads, fleet and waste, said: “The way that you procure design-build contracts is it’s very much outcome-based. You would say ‘here is what we want’.
“One of the things we want is to manage any issues with odour. It’s up to the contractors to meet those specifications.”
She said the project will have to go through the same planning process as any other. This would include the management and control of any nuisance factors, including odour.
Cllr Manson said: “I’m keen that we don’t get ten thousand complaints in the future, about the horrible smells in Kirkwall.”
The proposals will now go on to a meeting of the full council next month.
The council expects the project to go to the recycling improvement fund board early next month.
By local democracy reporter Andrew Stewart